Rural round-up

04/05/2021

Return of the rabbit plague – Melanie Reid:

The saying goes: “Never turn your back on a rabbit, especially in Central Otago”. But New Zealand has. And now the population has exploded – again. This week, Newsroom Investigates launches an in-depth series about the South Island rabbit rampage.

Rabbits are eating their way through parts of the South Island, turning productive farm land into bare, honeycombed ground where only weeds survive. Lifestyle blocks and subdivisions around Queenstown are infested. The North Otago town of Moeraki has them in plague proportions.

Welcome to another environmental fiasco in Aotearoa.

There have been two occasions in our history when rabbits were almost wiped out: in 1947, when the government set up a Rabbit Destruction Council with the aim to “kill the last rabbit,” and exactly 50 years later when the calicivirus was released illegally by a fed-up farmer. . . 

Sector fears govt module will confuse farmers – Neal Wallace:

The release of a Government initiated online tool to help farmers manage intensive winter grazing may create confusion, a primary sector group fears.

The online farm plan module was launched this week by the ministries for Primary Industry (MPI) and Environment (MfE) ahead of a similarly targeted information jointly formulated by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Deer Industry NZ.

B+LNZ environmental policy manager Corina Jordan says having two separate plan templates in circulation creates confusion, sends mixed messages and “adds to the noise” at a time farmers should be focused on developing a winter grazing plan.

“It was unnecessary for MPI and MfE to step into this space because we had a farm plan already developed. We were already doing it.” . . 

R&D crucial to meet GHG goals – Anne Boswell:

New Zealand farmers are already doing their bit, but more tools will be needed if they are to meet the targets outlined in the Climate Change Commission’s proposal.

DairyNZ says a substantial investment into research and development (R&D) is crucial if farmers are to meet the recommendations set out in the independent Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft carbon budgets proposal, released in January this year.

As an industry body, DairyNZ has made a comprehensive submission to the commission on farmers’ behalf, backed by economic, farm systems and scientific evidence. 

The submission outlined two key messages: don’t shift the goalposts, and that substantial investment in research and development was critical to the success of the proposal. . . 

Feds keen to engage in immigration review:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Productivity Commission has decided to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings and looks forward to engaging in the process.

The primary industries have traditionally looked to the migrant workforce to fill a range of roles where sufficient numbers of Kiwis are not available.

“The closure of the border has seen many roles, both permanent and seasonal, unable to be filled by Kiwis,” Feds Immigration Spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“The various sectors have done what they can to encourage more New Zealanders to work on farms, including training and recruitment initiatives and increases in wages, but some roles and regions remain critically short on suitable staff.. .

Agriculture machinery sales continue to be buoyant:

Growing demand for agricultural machinery and equipment has kicked 2021 off to fantastic start, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA).

The momentum began to build during spring and summer of 2020 as the result of increasing customer confidence, said TAMA president Kyle Baxter.

Mr Baxter said he was seeing first-hand how strengthened commodity prices were giving farmers and rural contractors the confidence to invest in new equipment. .  .

Te Uru Rākau – NZ Forest Service explores biofuels as a major opportunity for New Zealand:

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is laying the foundations for a new biofuels industry, to turn forestry waste into a potential billion-dollar industry, and working on a business case with help from global investment experts Indufor Asia Pacific Ltd.

“Establishing a biofuels industry in New Zealand will require significant investment, so we’re moving ahead with developing the business case for this investment,” says Jason Wilson, director of sector investments at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Mr Wilson says research shows a biofuels industry would help New Zealand to meet its emissions targets and provide jobs and new industries in our regional centres. . . 


Not all cheeses are equal

22/10/2008

Yesterday’s announcement on the Food Price Index showed the price of chedder had gone up 61.6%  in the year to September but the increase in the price of milk was, by comparison, a modest 12.6%.

I was puzzled by that difference and have found there’s more to the story  – the price of chedder has gone up much more than that for gourmet cheeses:

The 1kg block of mild cheddar cheese tracked for the FPI rose by 59.3 percent in the year to July 2008, while the 125g round of camembert had a flatter rise of 10.6 percent. Increases for cottage cheese (21.5 percent) and processed cheese slices (24.7 percent) were between those recorded for cheddar and camembert.

Andrew Smith, general manager of marketing at Fonterra Brands, said that the main production input costs vary for different types of cheese. He said the prices of block cheese – such as cheddars and processed cheese – are linked to international commodity prices. The significant price increase for mild cheddar over the past year is a result of the unprecedented rise in global dairy commodities. In contrast, gourmet or specialty cheeses, such as camembert, are linked to the price of domestic ‘white milk’, which has also increased but at a more modest rate than has occurred on the commodities market.

Fresh milk prices in the FPI increased by 10.2 percent in the year to July 2008, broadly in line with the 10.6 percent increase for camembert.

I’m still puzzled because I thought all milk was white; and the price farmers  get for their milk is related to international commodity prices whether or not it’s sold for export or town supply.

There is a small subsidy for the local market but that still doesn’t explain the big difference in the price of milk and cheese.

(The difference in figures quoted is because the first ones for the FPI are for the year to September and the second ones for the cheese story are for the year to July).


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